BASOTHO have been urged to safeguard road infrastructure to enable efficient movement of goods and services for the development of the country.
This was said by Deputy Prime Minister Mothetjoa Metsing during a sod-turning ceremony for the construction of a seven-kilometre road from Lekhalaneng, Ha-Pita to Ha-Matala in Maseru.
The road is being constructed by Matekane Transport and Plant Hire. The construction began on 31 May 2016, and is expected to be completed in May 2017.
Once completed, Mr Metsing said, the road would serve people living in Qoaling, Lithoteng and Abia. He implored the community to cooperate with the contractors to ensure the project is completed within the set timeframe.
The deputy premier said the project also involved the installation of streetlights, and appealed to surrounding communities to protect them.
“I appeal to the public to take care of this road and the streetlights that are being installed to help prevent criminal activities during the night.”
He also urged the public to desist from building or extending their structures into the national road reserve.
“By building or extending your structures into the road reserve, you make the contractor’s job very difficult. I appeal to people whose buildings encroach onto the national road reserve to move back for the smooth operation of the project.
“Road-encroachment makes the contractor’s job very difficult because they won’t be unable to meet the project’s deadline. As a result, money that was supposed to be channelled towards improving infrastructure is diverted to compensating people who have to be moved when the roads are constructed,” said Mr Metsing, adding people qualifying for compensation would only be those who didn’t extend their structures illegally.
Turning to the contractors, the deputy premier said they should build a durable road.
“To the contractors, I say this community expects a good job. They expect to see good quality roads that will last for many years,” he said. “You all know that the government has commitments to improve infrastructure in other sectors. So let’s make sure we take care of this road to ensure the government does not focus on one sector alone.”
On behalf of the Pita Route Taxi Association, Khotso Leshota said they were happy as residents and business owners in the area that their call for the rehabilitation of roads was finally heeded.
“We were always asking for the rehabilitation of these roads at the Maseru City Council, but for many years all we were getting were promises. At some point, we thought these promises were never going to be fulfilled, but today we are happy to see that work has already started.”
He, however, bemoaned the proliferation of unlicensed taxis in the area.
“Although today we are happy that our roads are being rehabilitated, once they are complete, we are going to face a challenge of taxis that operate without proper documentation,” Mr Leshota said.
“As the business community and taxpayers, we are very worried about this issue and hope it will soon be addressed. Already, we have more than 1 500 vehicles that operate without the requisite documentation for carrying passengers. We are now wondering if this area has become a playground.”